The word confidence comes from Latin or French and literally means 'full trust in yourself'. But confidence can be reduced by disappointing exam results, making mistakes, feeling as if you're not progressing and many other things.
Boosting your confidence will help you to get the best possible results and enjoy your learning too. Here are some tips.
1. Schedule your study time
Do you study regularly? Unconfident students often don't. They may study only when they're in the right mood, leave it until the last minute or get busy with other things and end up not studying at all. But lack of regular study may weaken your confidence further.
Break this cycle by making a schedule. Decide what day and time you will study and for how long. Mark it in your calendar so that your time is reserved.
It's better to study regularly (e.g. a little every day) than intensively (e.g. all day once a week).
2. Remember your purpose
There are many reasons why people learn English. What's yours? If you're unsure, take time to identify it.
Unconfident learners sometimes feel lost or directionless. To boost your confidence, remind yourself why you are learning English. This will give you a sense of purpose and of going in the right direction.
3. Set goals
Unconfident learners might have vague goals such as to improve their English generally, or they may not have thought about a goal at all.
Set goals for yourself – the more specific, the better. Perhaps you aim to understand songs in English or to achieve a particular IELTS score, for example. Your goal should be challenging but doable.
Break it down into smaller goals for day-to-day study sessions. For example:
- Today, I'll listen to my favourite song and check the vocabulary in it.
- Today, I'll do an IELTS writing practice test.
When you complete your daily goal, give yourself a small reward. Soon, you'll gain confidence as your completed goals move you closer to achieving your overall goal.
4. Record your successes
If you look back in your life, you've probably overcome many obstacles and achieved many goals already. You have certainly achieved a lot in your English learning to be capable of reading this article!
Don't let these successes be forgotten. Recording and remembering success is a big confidence booster. Here are some ways to do it.
- Write your goals down. Tick them when you achieve them.
- As well as a 'To do' list, keep a 'Done' list.
- Make a folder on your computer for your certificates, best work and nice comments you receive.
- Start a private Padlet or Instagram to store images of your completed work.
- Write a journal and reflect on your progress.
Whichever way you choose, review your achievements from time to time. After just a few days you'll see evidence of your ability to achieve.
5. Deal with fear of failure
Fear of failure is a major cause of low confidence. However, there's another way to look at failure.
- F.A.I.L. = First Attempt In Learning
Nobody learns without making mistakes. But mistakes actually provide useful information about what you can improve. They help you to get it right next time.
So let your mistakes come out in lessons or exercises. Once you know about them, you can correct them. You won't repeat them in your exam or interview, when it matters more.
Don't fear mistakes – lessons, exercises and classrooms all exist for the purpose of trying, making mistakes and learning.
Good luck in your studies!